Simonside Fell Race, Thropton Show, Saturday, September 20, 2008

BM / 11km / 350m

Nigel Heppell

Saturday’s Simonside Fell Race attracted a field of 80 runners. Nigel H, Shaun R, and Dougie N ran for Elvet Striders, and Susan & Geoff D were in disguise as NFR.

On what must have been one of the warmest days of the summer – I know that’s not saying much, but it still caused the perspiration to flow and the cheeks to glow – the race followed the usual route*, although sadly we had to omit the plunge through the river because there was too much err , water, in it. From my position in mid-field across the valley bottom I watched Shaun gradually pull away from me, and ahead of him I caught brief glimpses of Geoff’s steady lope as he disappeared up the hill and into the distance. There followed a runable climb up the roadway before we hit the steeper track through fields and my first walk of the day. Fortunately, this doesn’t go on for long and the track flattens before entering the woods and climbing again. This bit is like trying to run up a narrow boulder-strewn dry stream bed and a lot of bunching occurs, which is a good excuse to slow down and catch breath.

*As we leave the woods and hit the heather, those of us who’ve done it before know to veer left and head directly for the escarpment though deep heather and broken ground. The turning is marked with a strip of tape but I noticed a group of runners ahead of me ploughing straight on up the gully. I hadn’t the breath to shout after them, but assumed they were seeking easier contours Approaching the base of Simonside I was hailed by a cry of “Nigel….you b**tard” from somewhere behind and I turned to see a good number of runners who I knew to have been well ahead of me floundering through the heather from an odd direction. It seems they’d missed a turning. Oh dear! [ Do I detect a note of glee, by any chance??? What I actually shouted was: “Nigel, you bastard! Take a bloody short-cut, would you?” Ed.]

I was surprised how energised I felt after that, and with only a short scramble on all fours to reach the top of the course I began to think I could make a bit of a race out of this on the downhill section. Charging through the woods, dodging low branches, twisting and turning and splatting through the gloopy bits, slithering over tree roots and moss-covered rocks is great fun and I knew I wouldn’t be overtaken by anyone I knew until we cleared the woods and got back onto the drudgery of the roads and the flat valley crossing. Determined to make the most of my unexpected advantage I kept my head down and didn’t look back although I fully expected to be overhauled at any moment.

One or two other runners came past as I crossed the final field – through the middle of a sheep dog trial – and a particularly energy-sapping knee-deep bog, but no-one I knew. From there back into the showfield and down the funnel to the finishing line I wasn’t challenged at all and was very satisfied with my time. I stood around waiting to cheer the others in but it took ages before they appeared – to paraphrase a recent race report editor, I’d gone home and had my tea before Shaun appeared. I’m told a second wrong turning was taken along with a few other runners and valuable time lost. C’est la vie.

Geoff of course was well up the field and Susan came in a few minutes after Shaun. Dougie turned up a little later looking remarkably fresh after his exertions.

Moral of this story – it’s not just the running that counts in a fell race!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Nick Swinburn NFR M 47.12
18 Aly Raw Bingley FV40 58.54
20 Geoff Davis NFR MV50 2nd MV50 60.15
33 Nigel Heppell MV50 66.45
52 Shaun Roberts MV50 71.34
59 Susan Davis NFR FV40 75.05
61 Dougie Nisbet MV40 76.09
65 Eric Whittaker Blackhill MV60 1st MV60 77.38

79 finishers

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